Category Archives: Auto, Cars, Trucks, SUVs, Car Gadgets

Here’s everything I learned playing Forza Motorsport 7

The premier racing sim for Xbox consoles returns this fall with the latest installment of the Forza Motorsport series for Xbox One. I’ve been a longtime fan of the series (dating back to Forza 3 for the Xbox 360), so it’s particularly interesting to watch how the series has evolved and branched over the years.

Forza Motorsport 7 promises to be the best looking, most accurate, most immersive entry in the franchise’s history when it launches later this month. I was recently able to spend a fast-paced hour in Forza Motorsport 7’s digital driver’s seat at a preview event to find out what’s new for this release.


Turn 10/Microsoft

4K 60fps HDR

Forza Motorsport 7 should scale and run smoothly on Xbox One and Xbox One S hardware, but the optimal gaming experience, I’m told, is on the Xbox One X console. The game was designed with the X in mind and is claimed to run in full 4K resolution at 60 frames per second in high dynamic range (HDR). I wasn’t set up to confirm those claims nor am I one of CNET’s TV reviewers, but the long-and-short of it is that this should be the best looking Forza title yet.

I was told that the build I played was essentially the final release version of the game played on Xbox One X hardware. I noticed a handful of hiccups and stutters here and there during my test, but the vast majority of my gameplay was buttery smooth and crisply rendered.

Forza Motorsport 7

Forza Motorsport 7 was built to run on the Xbox One X and claims full 4K resolution at 60 fps in HDR.

Turn 10/Microsoft

Load times were well hidden behind cinematics, menus and transitions during the campaign mode. So much so that I almost never noticed any sort of wait once I was ready to start driving. However, the Free Play modes are less linear and have less stagecraft to hide the loading, so I noticed seemingly longer load times in this mode. Still, after choosing a car and a track, I was up and running within a minute and change.

700 cars, 30 tracks

The two most important parts of any racing game are the cars and the courses. Forza 7 launches with 30 tracks to chose from including many longtime favorites and some new surprises. More impressive is its massive collection of over 700 vehicles, including “the largest collection of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches available in any racing game.” All of those cars are now so-called ForzaVista cars, modeled in such high detail that you can open the doors, peer around the interior and get up-close and personal with the texture of the leather on the dashboard.

Of course, I went almost straight to the Mazda Miata (like I always do) during my hour-long test. But there is a wide range of vehicles and vehicle types to choose from including new classes, like racing trucks and ATVs, and more typical racing sim classes, like sports cars, supercars and various historic and modern race cars.

Forza motorsport 7

The 700 ForzaVista cars feature ridiculous levels of detail and fully rendered interiors.

Turn 10/Microsoft

Forza 7 takes an interesting approach to how it gives you access to those 700 cars. During the campaign, you can’t just hop in and buy the best car in the game. Rather, the vehicles are split into various tiers — at first, you are only given access to the lower tier of cars, but each vehicle that is added to your collection adds to a higher garage score. Higher garage scores grant access to better cars.

Of course, there’s also the ability to just skip all of that nonsense in the Free Play mode, which lets you do what you want to do.

A whole lot of shaking

Most racing sims treat cars like realistically rendered and simulated polygons that move around the course as one part.

Forza 7 goes a step further and acknowledges that real cars are a collection of various panels, parts and bits that are welded or bolted together and can shake, flex and rattle at slightly different rates. From the cockpit view, drivers can see the hood of an old muscle car shake in the wind as you approach top speed or the various bits of a racing truck’s body rattle wildly when accelerating.

The camera shakes and bounces a bit as well, enhancing immersion. The camera changes are subtle and I almost didn’t notice until I looked for it, but this small tweak enhances the feeling of speed.

Forza Motorsport 7 screenshot

Turn 10/Microsoft

Enhanced sound

It’s not news that Turn 10 puts a lot of effort into making sure that the various engine sounds, collision noises and tire screeches are accurate to life, but I also noticed that there’s now more attention placed on secondary sounds.

In the racing truck, for example, I was able to hear bits of gravel and dirt bouncing around in the wheel well. That’s a ridiculous level of detail that’ll probably be lost on you if you don’t have a great audio setup. I’ll definitely be playing with a good set of headphones on.


From stock cars to racing trucks to sport compacts, Forza Motorsport 7 features a wide range of vehicle types.

Turn 10/Microsoft

Dynamic weather

Weather that affects the way cars handle and perform on track has been a part of the Forza series for the last few installments, but Forza 7 adds a Dynamic Weather system that can change on the fly during the course of a race.

A race that starts bone dry could be hit by rain midway through, which reduces grip and visibility. With the rain comes puddles that expand and contract like they would in real life, adding a further challenge for racers. One particular race during the prologue that takes place in Dubai sees wind blowing sand across the course, which adds a slightly different traction challenge — and just looks pretty cool.

Driver gear

Forza Horizon 3 was the first Forza title to allow the player to chose a different avatar for their driver. Forza Motorsport 7 takes that customization to a completely different level.

Once again, you can chose between a male or female driver model, but now you can choose between hundreds of custom Driver Gear. These are basically skins for the player’s character that range from different color schemes, historic racing suits, automaker logos and novelty designs. I was especially digging the Día de Muertos skull-themed skin, but there are also skins that look like a highway patrol uniform or Halo’s Spartan armor.


Drivers can be seen outside of the cars before and after the races and can be customized with unlockable Driver Gear skins.

Turn 10/Microsoft

Skins are fun, because the driver can be seen more before and particularly after the race, where the avatars of the top three racers appear on a podium. You can unlock different Driver Gear skins by completing in-game challenges or leveling up your profile by winning races and earning in-game currency.

Ready, set, go!

When Forza Motorsport 7 launches, Xbox One and Windows 10 PC players will be able to race with or against each other through the Xbox Play Anywhere cross-play system. You can even bounce back and forth between PC and console with your synced profile. Simply purchase the game digitally and it’ll unlock for all platforms.

A demo will be available for download on Sept. 19, on Xbox Live. Drivers who order the Ultimate Edition will get a headstart with early access to the full game on Sept. 29. Deluxe and Standard editions will unlock a few days later on Oct. 3.

The Deluxe Edition adds a Day One Car Pack with additional launch vehicles and Forza VIP membership (a stated $30 value total). The Ultimate Edition adds a “Forza Motorsport 7” Car Pass ($30 value) that’s essentially a season pass for post-launch DLC cars in addition to the early access to the game.


Driver Gear includes novelty, historic and automaker inspired skins that are unlockable in-game.

Turn 10/Microsoft

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Trying to drown a $60,000 SUV at the Land Rover Experience

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Qualcomm says cars, not phones, will see the most innovation


Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf expects auto to be a big area of innovation over the next decade. 

James Martin/CNET

Remember that excitement when you held the original iPhone?

You may get that feeling back, only it’ll likely be behind the wheel of a car.

That’s according to Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf, who believes the most exciting advances in tech over the next decade will come in automotive.

“The car is going through a massive wave of innovation,” Mollenkopf said in an interview on Thursday at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Many of those innovations are in areas Qualcomm has expertise, he said. “You’ll see more and more of us here.”

The comments underscore a shift in focus for the world’s largest maker of chips for smartphones. Qualcomm’s technology connects devices — including some models of Apple’s newest iPhones — to cellular networks, as well as acts as the brains of phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S8. But the mobile market is slowing down, and Qualcomm has been looking to expand in faster growing areas.

It’s telling that as the whole tech world paid attention to the launch of Apple’s new iPhone X, Mollenkopf was flying to Germany. It also doesn’t hurt that his company is locked in a heated licensing battle with Apple, and he probably wouldn’t have felt very welcome in Cupertino.

Not just faster, but smarter

As cars do more things, there’s need for more advanced processors to power the vehicles both under the hood and for in-vehicle controls and entertainment. Market researcher IDC estimates semiconductor suppliers will generate $50.1 billion from the automotive market in 2021, up 52 percent from 2016.

Qualcomm’s efforts in automotive are focused around three main areas: Connectivity, computing and electrification, Mollenkopf said. It builds processors to connect a car to other vehicles and to the world around it; improves the experience inside the car for the driver and passengers; and enables new technologies like electric cars and autonomous vehicles.

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Auto “will be the most innovative platform of the next decade,” Mollenkopf told German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stopped by the Qualcomm booth on Thursday at the auto show to learn about the company’s technology. The most innovative product of the last decade? Smartphones, he said.

Many technologies found in phones will make their way to cars, he said. That includes 5G, the next big phase of mobile connectivity. 5G is expected to be 100 times faster than our current wireless technology and 10 times speedier than what Google Fiber offers through a physical connection to the home. In automotive, it will let cars seamlessly talk to each other or connect to a network for critical vehicle functions.

“Cars are now saying, ‘I need special features because I’m going to rely on the network for mission critical things, safety, transportation efficiency,'” Mollenkopf said. He added that 5G, which is expected in phones in 2019, won’t be far behind in vehicles.


“The speed in which the car is taking in new technology is increasing rapidly,” Mollenkopf said.

That hasn’t always been the case. It took years for the car industry to embrace cellular connectivity, and wireless industry executives often talked about the longer development cycles that went into cars vs. phones.

To expand its footprint in auto, Qualcomm a year ago launched a bid to purchase NXP Semiconductors, the world’s biggest auto chip supplier, for $39 billion. The deal, the largest ever in the semiconductor industry, has run into some EU regulatory hurdles, though. Mollenkopf still expects the deal to close by the end of 2017.

“We haven’t seen anything we didn’t expect both from timing and [the EU] stopping the clock,” Mollenkopf said. “It’s a process we have to go through versus something we don’t think we’ll be able to get through it.”

The smartphone of the future

While Mollenkopf is optimistic about automobiles, that doesn’t mean phones are over.

Apple on Tuesday showed off its vision of the smartphone of the future with the iPhone X. The device has a 5.8-inch OLED screen with ultraslim bezels, and it did away with the traditional home button. The iPhone X introduced Face ID as a new way to unlock the phone and make purchases using Apple Pay.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel (in pink) talks with Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf (fourth from left) at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

Shara Tibken/CNET

Even with the licensing dispute between the companies, Apple reportedly continues to use Qualcomm processors in its newest devices. Mollenkopf declined to comment about the new iPhones beyond saying he hasn’t seen them yet and that teardowns would show what chips are in the devices. With the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, certain versions used Qualcomm modems while others used Intel.

In Qualcomm’s view, “a lot of innovation [in smartphones] is moving into the camera,” Mollenkopf. He noted that Qualcomm in late August signed a deal with a Taiwanese company to introduce 3D cameras in Android devices. That would enable things like the face unlock technology found in the iPhone X. Other areas companies are innovating include augmented reality, security and “hardware that does low power machine learning,” Mollenkopf said.

Another big focus for the next couple of years will be Gigabit LTE and 5G, Mollenkopf said. And more smartphone-like capabilities will move into companion devices like smartwatches and headsets. “The next step is people put things on their eyes,” Mollenkopf said. “They may not do it while they’re walking around, but it may change the way we see video.”

As for the licensing battle with Apple, Mollenkopf still believes the case will be settled out of court, but he couldn’t predict when. In the meantime, Qualcomm is preparing for a trial, he said.

“I do think the history and experience is these things do get settled out of court,” Mollenkopf said. “But sometimes you have to be prepared to go the whole distance.”

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Mozzie Hoverboard Release Date, Price and Specs

The impressive amount of technology baked into the Mozzie hoverboard reminds me that this sort of device wouldn’t have even been feasible 20 years ago. Compact motors and battery make it go, while sensors help keep it stable and let me control how it moves. To tweak its settings, it connects to a smartphone app.

But that doesn’t mean I enjoy riding the Mozzie hoverboard, or any other hoverboard for that matter. I’ll rant on that more, but let’s consider this hoverboard’s attributes.

Mozzie maker Cutting Edge Products is one of a few companies reviving the idea of the hoverboard after so many burst into flame a couple of years ago. This new batch, including the Mozzie hoverboard, complies with UL 2272, a standard designed to ensure fire safety.

Mozzie hoverboard

The Mozzie hoverboard is UL certified, making it less likely to burst into flames than the previous generation of hoverboards.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Following the traditional hoverboard concept, the Mozzie is basically a plank with wheels at both ends. You ride it by standing on the plank, feet apart. Tipping your feet forward or back gets the Mozzie going, while shifting your weight to one side of the other makes it turn.

With the Mozzie, the “plank” houses two 350-watt motors, a 106 watt-hour lithium-phosphate battery, sensors, lights and even Bluetooth speakers. Unlike the older, unsafe hoverboards, Mozzie doesn’t have a swivel in the middle of its plank. Its internal sensors are smart enough to figure out when your weight shifts on one side or the other.

Mozzie hoverboardEnlarge Image

Handles make for a convenient carrying point, but the Mozzie hoverboard is heavy.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

After charging it up, I find that riding the Mozzie is straightforward. Push the power button in its center, stand on the rubber footpads, tip my feet forward a little and I’m heading down the sidewalk. It feels a little precarious, but I find bending my knees helps my feeling of stability.

Tipping one foot forward, or just leaning, makes Mozzie turn. It takes a few minutes to get used to it, but it works well. Given more time to practice, I imagine I’d be doing snowboard-like sweeping turns with ease.

Hard rubber tires make the ride rough on my knees when I take th Mozzie onto pavement, and I know I would give up long before reaching its 8- to 10-mile range. However, the wheels are big enough to ride over typical sidewalk cracks without a sudden stop.

Mozzie’s handles on either side of the plank, with rubberized grips, should make it convenient to take on public transit, but at 26 pounds, it’s a lot to carry around. If I were to walk through subway stations with it, I’d certainly be developing my upper body strength, making up for the lack of walking the board lets me get away with.

Mozzie hoverboard appEnlarge Image

The Mozzie app connects to the hoverboard through Bluetooth, and lets you set its top speed and stability.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Using the Mozzie Android app on a smartphone, I adjust the ride sensitivity and top speed, setting everything for maximum safety. I can also change the color of the front and rear lights with the app, although the concept of front and rear on the Mozzie seems fungible, based on the direction you happen to be traveling. A spokesman tells me that an iOS app for the Mozzie is on the way.

Maybe it’s the Moto G5 phone I’m using to test the app, but the Bluetooth connection to the Mozzie drops in and out. 

Along with adjusting settings with the app, I can also play music from the smartphone through the Mozzie’s Bluetooth connection, and its built-in speakers are loud. I can think of a few events where it might be fun to roll down the street, blasting music while running the Mozzie’s light show. But I wouldn’t want to do it on my regular commute, before folks on the sidewalk around me have had their coffee.

One pleasant surprise is the Mozzie’s price. At $549 it seems inexpensive for such a robust rideable. It costs significantly less than the Moov hoverboard that came out recently. 

Despite the low price and solid feature-set, I won’t be riding Mozzie for my first-mile or last-mile commute. While standing on the hoverboard, I can’t help but feel there’s a faceplant in my future. The lateral axis of the wheels and board means no real forward stability, so that any sudden stops will result in a quick introduction to the pavement. Give me a scooter, skateboard or bicycle, with comfortable longitudinal stability. 

Mozzie hoverboard

The Mozzie hoverboard feels well constructed and includes many features, but the riding style of hoverboards in general lacks forward stability.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

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2019 Genesis G70 Release Date, Price and Specs

Genesis has never been shy about its aspiration to expand its lineup, but nothing had come about since the creation of the brand and its two first cars, the G80 and G90. But now, there’s a new one, and it’ll wade into a segment with some long-time competition.

The 2019 Genesis G70 is a compact luxury sedan meant to compete with three long-standing German compacts — the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Genesis calls it the “completion” of its sedan lineup, so don’t expect anything smaller to come out — from here on out, new Genesis models will likely be SUVs. Genesis hopes to unveil three additional models over the next four years, including some “alternative powertrains,” which likely points to some degree of electrification.

Based on the pictures, Genesis did well adapting the G80’s style to a smaller form. The grille should be familiar to anyone who’s seen the G80, although the rest of the bumper is more chiseled and angry-looking than other Genesis models. Out back, I get a bit of last-generation C-Class in the taillights, but it’s a good look with plenty of flashy LED elements to capture buyers’ attentions.

Inside, things are pretty traditional Genesis. There’s a variety of materials in each dashboard layer, although the G70 bucks tradition by using one of those “floating” screen designs that’s very much a love-it-or-hate-it thing. There are plenty of physical buttons for manipulating the climate control and infotainment, and the seats (at least in their diamond-stitched getup) look properly fancy.

2019 Genesis G70

Its 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Music geeks will probably opt for the 15-speaker Lexicon sound system.

When it launches in South Korea this year, the G70 will come with one of three engines — a 2.0-liter gas I4 with 248 horsepower, a 2.2-liter diesel I4 with 199 horsepower and a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 with 365 horsepower.

The latter will be used in the G70 Sport trim, which is meant for outright performance, with a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed around 168 mph. It has standard variable-ratio steering that can change steering feel based on the driver’s preference, as well as an adaptive suspension system.

Since it wouldn’t be a new car in 2017 without some kind of safety system, the Genesis G70 packs a whole bunch of ’em. The Genesis Active Safety Control suite includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. Its hood will also lift up to absorb the shock of contacting a pedestrian, in the hopes that it will limit the hurt headed that person’s way.

While the Genesis G70 goes on sale this month in South Korea, we won’t know more North American-specific information on the car until early 2018.

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The BMW M8 GTE looks stunning, ready to tackle Le Mans

Meet the drop-resistant Moto Z2 Force

The Moto Z2 Force is really thin, with a fast processor and great battery life. It can survive drops without shattering.

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